Reflections on hosted telephoney

This past few weeks have been really interesting as I have been digging around in the world of hosted telephony & UC solutions. As a company we have had little mandate to look for hosted services but I am looking to change that ethos and move some of our non core ( and by that I mean core to the business not IT) to hosted or “cloud” services.

Another key driver being imposed on me and my team is to gain flexibility of being able to scale up and down quickly. Great I thought my goals and business goals are fully aligned and we set about speaking to vendors.

So far I have spoken to two UC providers, one who uses MyTel and the other Cisco. The story is the same, minimal CAPEX costs (handsets mainly) and a OPEX cost model, as you would expect.

At this stage I am less concerned with features and feature parity, I think they are all similar and I know they will for the most part do what I need. What is of interest are the terms, duration of contract and dealing with the variability. All things that I just thought would be simple, however maybe I have been a little wet behind the ears here but I found a few things out that may help others who are looking for hosted UC and telecoms.

It is pretty evident that nearly every vendor that I have spoken with have a hosted offering through one of many channel partners. You can scale up as much as you like but if you want to scale back then you had better think again. As the vendor licensing program’s do not seem to support doing that as the channel partner has to by X licenses and put them aside for your business, so why would they foot the bill if you decided two months in to drop say 30% of your users off their platform.

The best deal I have found to date is one channel partner would allow us to flex down by 15% but in return we had hiked monthly rates and had to commit to a five-year contract!

To date I have now spoken to the following vendors (Avaya, MyTel, Cisco, Arista and Gamma) and some of their channel partners hosting their respective platforms and the story of scale up but not down is unanimous. Yet they all tout a consumption based model in the cloud is what they do. I disagree and think that they all need to get up to speed here, as there must be other businesses of a similar size who are looking for the same flexibility.

There is however some hope…

I wrote that first section a few weeks back and I never got around to publishing it. Since then I actually discovered two channel partners one of which is using Avaya and the other is on….

They both offer a true consumption based offering that you can scale up and down as you need too. The Avaya partner is interesting as they are pioneers in some respects, as they were the first partner to convince them to offer this type of license model and as such they have worked with them to fine tune this model.

I do not want to plug their business on my blog, but please message me in the comments if you would like to speak with them.

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